(12/08/2016)
HARD TIMES IN WV AND PUBLIC SAFETY

OPINION Bob Weaver

I make these comments as being a dutiful Calhoun commissioner for 18 years and publishing the Hur Herald for 20 years.

Government often seems to be operating on the left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing, and in some cases it is used to advantage.

Furthermore, with West Virginia originally having one of the best Public Information Laws, during the past 20 years, it is getting harder and harder to access basic information.

A recent example, actually a third repeat, the WV State Police decided to close the Grantsville detachment without informing the Calhoun Commission, elected officials and the public.

In each case, the information was provided by a inside tip, after which State Police commander Col. Smithers was contacted, who verified the closures. This last time he did make an apology for the short notice.

During the 2013 closure effort at Grantsville, Col. Smithers promised to give due notice. In 2016 they did not, using a 40 day or so window before the WV Legislature would go into session.

Well, the detachment is closing, with the State Police asking for some free office space so they can do processing in the county and have a place to meet, without going to their new headquarters in Glenville.

With the earlier two attempts, they declined to release their master plan with a Freedom of Information request, which reportedly called for the closure of 20 or more attachments and the elimination of troopers.

The current three detachment closure will save only $62,000, with no layoffs, although indicating positions will not be filled with attrition, while at the same time claiming coverage could actually improve.

Reportedly, Calhoun's five officers could drop to three with the detachment commander going on active military duty and another officer returning to his county of origin.

The agency says they will dispatch officers from neighboring counties to fill the gaps.

Keep in mind that assigned troopers are at the mercy of the agency, and now we are to expect that the closings will provide the same or better service.

Perhaps, the county commissioners are offended that the agency keeps targeting for closure, Calhoun County, one of the smallest and poorest in the state.

A number of years ago I worked for a hospital corporation that fired their relatively high-paid department heads to hire newcomers just out of college at a much lower rate.

The hospital erected billboards in the area saying, "We Right-Sized In Order To Serve You Better."

Meanwhile, many poor, rural counties continue to be at risk of losing more vital services.

It is likely, with severe state budget losses, we will see a new movement to consolidate counties and county education systems.


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